Waseskwan Supplies Inc.
5506 50 Ave Bay 2
Call (780) 687-2185
“Don’t wait, and don’t be afraid.”
That is the advice from Tyler Youngchief of Waseskwan Supplies Inc. of Kehewin Cree Nation on starting a business.
“For me it was very scary to even think about opening up and going on my own, especially because I worked so much time in the oil fields, but you don’t know until you try.”
Waseskwan Supplies was formed by Tyler, and his wife Natasha Youngchief of Beaver Lake Cree Nation. Its focus is on safety, janitorial and office supplies. Waseskwan Supplies is 100 per cent Indigenous owned and operated and the first industrial supply company in Treaty 6 territory.
The business came to be because of a gap in the supply business in the territory
“I was trying to find new ways to get First Nations companies to work with us,” he said of his job in the oil sector. “But, whenever I searched, most First Nations only had heavy equipment companies or insulating companies… everybody was basically going after the same industry.”
He said he could only find one First Nation janitorial supplier, but they were in Treaty 8. So he thought, ‘why don’t I start this in Treaty 6?’ He extended his business to include office and safety supplies.
“Nobody does office, janitorial and safety the way we do,” Tyler said.
The challenge for Waseskwan Supplies Inc. was to build credibility within the industry.
“A lot of people are afraid to switch suppliers, because they are set in their ways.”
Tyler could demonstrate that his business could actually lower costs to the customers and ensure timely service. From there it was a matter of building relationships.
In order to thrive in business, it’s about “getting out there and not being afraid to engage with people,” said Tyler. You have to be able to demonstrate, as a business owner, you are not afraid to compete.
“It’s not always about money. Sometimes it’s about building a trust relationship.”
The goal now for Waseskwan , as stated in Tyler’s five-year plan, is to get a 16,000 sq. ft building. He sets small goals to build up to one big goal.
The vision for his company was set out in his business plan. Each year he goes back to make sure his vision is on track.